Concert set list and a reluctance to change?

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Concert set list and a reluctance to change?

Post by dani » 3 months ago

Why is there such a reluctance to perform songs at concerts that we haven’t heard live before?

Libera have a huge back catalogue of songs that have never been heard in a live setting so why don’t they shake up the set list more.

In China Far Away, Dies Irae and Stay with Me all back on the set list and I love hearing them be performed but why are they not performing more new songs from “Hope” which would make a lot more sense to sell the album.

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Re: Concert set list and a reluctance to change?

Post by TullyBascombe » 3 months ago

Perhaps it depends upon whether or not Mr. Prizeman has written anything new for Libera or collaborated with someone writing something new for Libera?

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Re: Concert set list and a reluctance to change?

Post by kinda_k00l » 3 months ago

This is not a new topic among us fans - we all love to hear new things being performed live (and by 'new' here I mean 'new to the live setlists, not the recordings' of course). I'm somewhat a newbie so I may not know much about Libera and what has been going on, but I find it quite understandable for them to stick to the same setlist for some tours. Here are my assumptions:
  • Practicing & performing live is not at all an easy task. The boys must remember how to sing right (providing the up-to-four different harmony parts, this is no joke) & do all the moves right (practicing blindfold etc.). With the setlist of 20 songs per concert, this is a HUGE amount of work even for adults, let alone young boys. Doing different songs live frequently is still not very promising and also cause the quality of the performance to be unstable.
  • It takes a lot of time to practice & rehearsing for live concerts. For the boys to remember the lyrics, for the different harmony parts to blend well, for the positions & choreography to match etc. is time-consuming. As we have known, they can have up to 10 hours of practicing & rehearsing a week, which is tiring enough. My choir who is far less experienced than Libera usually takes up to a month to get just one or two songs with three harmony parts to sound right (and that just counts for the singing); Libera, of course, can do a lot faster than that, but still.
  • The boys also have school and other things. It's difficult for them to cope with both already, so sticking to similar setlists is the best choice I think. Particularly speaking about this China tour, they didn't have much time: having to go to school the previous week, jumping on the plane to have 5 concerts in a row, then returning to school after only one day of relaxation. I'm still wondering how they can deal with that jetlag hmm...
  • There are songs that are unsuitable for live performance. There are various reasons to this: too difficult to perform live flawlessly because of the difficult melody line (Three Ravens), too many and/or complicated harmony lines (Venite Adoremus, Touch The Sky), being too high (Benedictus Deus), Libera does not have the rights to get the songs on stage (I can't think of an example for this, but there are possibilities), not having the suitable soloist(s) (Ave Maria Caccini). Also, the boys' abilities are not the same as others - some sing high notes better and vice versa, some have suitable voices for certain songs, and so on.
P/S: Libera didn't bring any copies of 'Hope' with them to be sold in China. There are some CDs & DVDs being sold at the concert on the 28th (even some rare ones), but no 'Hope'. Maybe it was because we fans have already bought them all and they have none left.
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Re: Concert set list and a reluctance to change?

Post by filiarheni » 3 months ago

That is a difficult topic. I completely relate to dani's wish to meet much more variety of songs in the concerts than we are actually given (although still a newbie in this regard, but looking at the setlists over the years, I notice only slight changes), because there are so very many songs I absolutely long for to have live.

However, kinda_k00l's points are right. In addition, I'd like to recall the ever-changing "material" (I apologise for this word :wink: ) Robert has to deal with. Recently, I watched an interview with a boys choir's conductor and she said she'd train and train them all along and as soon as they are at their best, they are gone.
Boys choir fate. So even though the songs are the same, the voices and their qualities always change, new, appropriate soloists have to be found. It's there I see a reason for a largely constant setlist. Because Libera always has to be fit, on each tour, in each concert, in each song, every single time, and they have to cope with the balance between the mentioned changes on the one hand and a super high quality which we wish to remain stable on the other.

I think the one solution would be the most unpopular (or should I say heretical? :lol: ) to us fans: Reducing the number of concerts, i. e. reducing the tours or maybe even leave them away for a period of time. Then, they'd have the time to work on a significantly higher number of new songs as intensely as needed for all the components belonging to a song kinda_k00l mentions. But this would be too big a sacrifice for us ... So anyway, we have to live with the one or the other way. :)

P.S. I hope that Robert will give us Stabat Mater one day. It has a difficult solo part, but I think it can be done.
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Re: Concert set list and a reluctance to change?

Post by Surpinto » 3 months ago

I agree that Kinda_k00l summed it up rather well. Also, I do not know that the concert set list is designed to appeal to fans who see them nearly as often as some at this forum have the opportunity to do. But we have also seen quite a number of songs disappear only to reappear again years later too. Part of their repertoire is training up the boys to sing well and perhaps some songs are better suited to that than others, but that is mere speculation on my part.

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Re: Concert set list and a reluctance to change?

Post by Jay_S » 3 months ago

Dani, I can totally understand your frustration with the songs that are repeatedly performed at the concerts. I could have done without Sanctus and Libera at the St Louis concert but I understand that they are just about always going to be performed as they are 'trademark' songs if you will. TulleyBascombe, kinda_k00l, filiarheni and Surpinto all made some really good points about the difficulties presented to learn new material for concerts. Several of the songs on Hope were sung by boys who are no longer with the group or have had their trebel voices leave them. Finding suitable replacements is a daunting task. I think Robert does a really good job making the Choir sound as good as possible with the current talent as some years there are better soloists than others. I was very happy to have Sacris Solemnis added to the set list on the US tour and Stay With Me, Far Away and Dies Irae are awesome additions during the China tour. I can't answer why they didn't perform more songs from Hope as that would certainly have helped boost CD sales.
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Re: Concert set list and a reluctance to change?

Post by chris17 » 3 months ago

Also having been in a choir, I agree that a big factor is simply the time and effort of learning new songs to perform. My choir rehearsed some of the more difficult pieces for weeks before performing them, and we didn't have to worry about any sort of choreography or memorizing the words and music - and even then, with the sheet music in front of us, we'd still have the occasional missed entrance, incorrect timing, etc. Granted, Libera rehearses far more than my choir did, but they also perform a large number of songs, completely from memory, in new locations which have different acoustics (which affects how the choir sounds to themselves, which in turn can affect their performance), and they do all this with exceptional quality. And they're also kids, on top of all that.

Another factor - related to the ever-changing members - is that it's likely easier for the new boys to learn a song that some of the other boys already know, so a previously-performed song is likely to be easier to get concert-ready. This was definitely true in my choir as well; if some of the lead singers knew the piece but I hadn't sung it before, I was able to listen to their voices and follow along better while learning it. However, with a song none of us had sung before, it was much more challenging.

Now, none of this may completely apply to songs from Hope - for example, Stabat Mater (which I agree would be fantastic live and seems like it should be doable). Some of the boys, at least, have sung those recently enough. However, they did sing at least 6 songs from Hope in China, if I counted right. Nowhere near the whole album, but it's not an insignificant number.

I also don't know if it would matter in Robert's decision-making process, but Stabat Mater is really a Lenten/Good Friday song, and it's definitely closer to Christmas at this point. Of course, they've sung Exsultate during Lent before, so that may not be a huge factor, but I suppose that there are some seasonal factors that probably impact the decision.

I imagine there are plenty of other possible factors too - whether some songs lend themselves to being performed well live, like Surpinto said; whether Robert thinks they'll be appealing to the audience; if there's a current soloist who can perform the song well; how the songs affect the overall set list (if they add variety, if they affect how the concert flows, etc.), and who knows what else. For example, I think Stay With Me is a song that makes sense to add back in because it's one of their classic and unique songs, and it's one they've pulled off successfully before.

I do agree with Jay_S about Sanctus, anyway. I've only been to one concert and I did enjoy Sanctus because it was my first time hearing it live, but it's not one I listen to often normally, and it seems like one that could take a break from the set list.

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